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Special Agents

Be a Part of Our Nation’s Most Challenging Protective and Investigative Missions

Career Path | Qualifications | Benefits | Conditions | Age

Career Path

Frequent travel and reassignments to a variety of duty stations, occasionally including liaison assignments in foreign countries, are some of the unique opportunities that await a special agent.

A typical special agent career path, depending upon performance and promotions that affect individual assignments, begins with the first six to eight years on the job assigned to a field office. Newly-appointed agents may be assigned to field offices anywhere in the United States.

After their field experience, agents are usually transferred to a protective assignment where they will stay for three to five years. Following their protective assignment, many agents return to the field or transfer to a headquarters office, a training office or other Washington, D.C.-based assignment. During their careers, agents also have the opportunity to work overseas in one of the agency's international field offices. This typically requires foreign language training to ensure language proficiency when working alongside the agency's foreign law enforcement counterparts.

Special agents are usually hired at the GL-7 or GL-9 level, depending on individual qualifications and/or education. The full performance level for a special agent is GS-13. Selection for promotion for positions above the GS-13 level is competitive.



To be considered for Special Agent positions you must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be at least 21 years of age at time of application and younger than 37 at the time of receipt of a conditional offer of employment to continue in the application process. Applicants with veterans’ preference must be at least 21 years of age and younger than 40 at the time of receipt of a conditional offer of employment to continue in the application process.
  • Possess a current valid driver’s license/li>
  • Qualify for the GL-7 level or the GL-9 level
  • Have uncorrected vision no worse than 20/60 binocular; correctable to 20/20 in each eye (NOTE: Lasik, ALK, RK and PRK corrective eye surgeries are acceptable eyes surgeries for special agent applicants provided specific visual tests are passed. The following are the waiting periods before visual tests are conducted after the surgery: Lasik surgery–three months; PRK–six months; and ALK and RK–one year.)
  • Be in excellent health and physical condition
  • Pass a written examination
  • Pass an Applicant Physical Abilities Test
  • Qualify for a Top Secret clearance and undergo a complete background investigation, to include in-depth interviews, drug screening, medical and polygraph examinations
  • Certify that you have registered with the Selective Service System or are exempt from having to do so, if you are a male applicant born after December 31, 1959
  • The Secret Service prohibits employees from having visible body markings (including but not limited to tattoos, body art, and branding) on the head, face, neck, hand and fingers (any area below the wrist bone). If you have visible body markings, you will be required to medically remove such visible body markings at your own expense prior to entering on duty with the Secret Service.



In addition to federal employee benefits, Special Agent benefits also include:

  • Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) that provides an opportunity for special agents to receive up to an additional 25% of their annual base pay
  • Low-cost life insurance
  • Individual or family membership in low-cost federal health benefit plans
  • Annual leave earned at the rate of 13 to 26 days per year, based on length of employment (prior federal civilian or military service is credited, as authorized)
  • Sick leave accumulated at the rate of 13 days per year without limit
  • Paid holidays
  • Comprehensive retirement benefits (retirement credit is granted for prior federal military or government service, as authorized)
  • Eligibility for participation in Flexible Spending Account Program (a tax-favored program offered to employees to pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars)
  • A onetime recruitment bonus, 25 percent of basic annual pay, will be paid to newly hired special agents, who are identified as having a foreign language skill and can test at the S-3 level. This level requires that the applicant be able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social and professional topics. The recruitment bonus must be approved prior to the applicant's first day of employment and will be paid as a lump sum, upon successful completion of all required training and graduation from the U.S. Secret Service training program. The actual payment will depend on the availability of funds. The Secret Service also has a Foreign Language Cash Award Program. This program pays a cash award of up to 5 percent of basic pay to law enforcement officers who possess and make substantial use of one or more foreign languages in the performance of official duties. Newly hired special agents may be initially assigned, and reassigned during their career, to offices where a language skill best serves the needs of the Secret Service.



Certain demands are required of all special agents. These include, but are not limited to:  

  • Working long hours in undesirable conditions on short notice
  • Traveling away from home for periods up to 30 days and sometimes longer
  • Carrying a firearm while performing duties and maintaining firearms proficiency
  • Carrying out assignments in the areas of both protection and investigations
  • Relocating to duty stations throughout the U.S. and abroad as organizational needs dictate
  • Working undercover assignments as requested

Maximum Age Entry Restriction


On August 26, 2009, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a memorandum for all Heads of Departments and Executive Agencies related to hiring of preference eligible veterans applying for federal positions with maximum entry-age restrictions.

In accordance with guidance issued by the Office of Personnel Management, the Secret Service conducted an analysis to determine if a maximum entry age is essential to the performance of the (Special Agent, Uniformed Division Officer position). This analysis has now been completed. The results of this analysis supported that a maximum entry age of 40 is essential to the performance of the (Special Agent, Uniformed Division Officer position). Accordingly, applicants for the (Special Agent, Uniformed Division Officer position) with veteran’s preference must receive a conditional offer of employment prior to reaching age 40 to continue in the application process. All other applicants must receive a conditional offer of employment prior to reaching age 37 to continue in the application process.

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